Joshua Trott

When most people think of food, they think of a biological necessity. A daily obligation to our bodies. But sometimes food is more than just a source of energy. It has cultural and social significance and brings people together in participation and appreciation of the bizarreness food holds.

Here are five far-out food events that celebrate bizarre food culture:

1. Chinchilla Melon Festival, Australia

The small town of Chinchilla, around 300 km from Brisbane, has a thriving agro-based economy and coal and gas exploration development projects. But neither of these factors are why Chinchilla is famous. Known as the Melon Capital of Australia, Chinchilla holds the Melon Festival biennially.

The Melon Festival has various events like Melon Dash for Cash, Celebrity Melon Eating, Melon Pip Spitting , Melon Bungy and a Melon Chariot Race. But the most popular, and perhaps peculiar, is the Melon Skiing event.

Due to the evident lack of snow in the Australian subcontinent, particularly in the season of the festival, skiing is done in the burning heat. Thus, the heavy ski shoes used to maneuver through the snow are replaced by half-carved watermelons.

The town of Chinchilla is located at the western extent of the Darling Downs region of Queensland which is approximately 300 kilometers from Brisbane or 3.5 hours by road.

Chinchilla is situated on the crossroad of the Warrego Highway which connects it to Brisbane. Air-conditioned buses ply. These buses have on-board movies and meal breaks at towns. The two types of buses are Greyhound Australia and Murrays.

Chinchilla has an all-weather floodlit airport, a grass strip and a modern terminal with amenities. Charter flights are available.

The festival takes place from 14th to 17th February 2019 and ends with a massive melon food fight, so mark your calendars!

A display worth seeing is the BoonargaCactoblastis Hall, some 10km east of Chinchilla. The display dedicates an insect in commemoration of the eradication of the Prickly Pear cactus. The Cactoblastis moth and lava was imported from South America with immediate results overwhelming the spread of Prickly Pear.

There are also several scenic drives around the region and one in particular reveals stands of Chinchilla White Gums and also the expanse of termite resistant Cypress Pines within the nearby Barakula Forest.

Another scenic drive takes you to the public viewing area of the Kogan Creek Power Station where you can learn about its construction and operations. This landmark is located about 30km south east of Chinchilla and dominates the landscape for quite a distance.It has been providing power to the national grid, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, since its completion in 2007. The Power Station operators are developing solar thermal technology with the aim of producing more electricity with the same amount of coal thereby increasing efficiency andreducing greenhouse intensity. A visit to this site will provide an appreciation of the enormity of the project.

A drive to the historic township of Jimbour, near Dalby, will reveal one of Australia's great pastoral homesteads named Jimbour House which is a great example of European pastoral heritage. The property is a residence but visitors are welcome to roam through the gardens and admire the classissandstone homestead.

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2. Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling Event, England

Imagine running down a hill on a chilly day in Gloucestershire while hundreds of men run behind you in pursuit. This is how an 8lb wheel of Double Gloucester cheese feels every year at Cooper’s Hill. It’s a matter of 200 years of tradition for the 4,000+ Brits gathered at the hill. How this tradition originated remains a mystery to most people.
The celebrated event has also been responsible for several injuries due to the steepness and ruggedness of the hill. Several ambulances are deployed by the local St. John Ambulance that provides first aid services at the event. ‘Catchers’ are placed for participants who lose their balance on the way down the hill who are usually young farmers or members of the local rugby team.

Gloucestershire has a functional airport with multiple business, domestic and recreational flights.
The Gloucestershire Railway Station is fully functional and has the second longest platform in the UK. It has domestic connectivity.

Travelers can easily arrive at the park via car or by following the local bus schedule. If you are driving from Gloucester city centre, take the A417 to Brockworth where you can then follow the local signs to the magnificent hill. Those without a care can take bus 10 Gloucester to Cheltenham via Brockworth or bus 46 from Stroud to Cheltenham via Brockworth.

Although the Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling event is relatively short, Gloucestershire offers plenty of alternative things to do in its vast county. Join locals and tourists at the surrounding pubs to socialize and listen to troubling stories of past Cheese Rolling events. Springtime in Brockworth is the place to be for outdoor activities filled with incredible entertainment.

Make sure to explore the beautiful countryside in this region of England before and after the Cheese Rolling competition. Take a tour of ancient museums or travel over the beautiful rolling hills and discover medieval churches and villages. Explore the Forest of Dean where you can bicycle or walk on nature’s most serene paths.

The next edition of the fest shall be held on 27th May 2019, so book your tickets for next summer!

3. La Merengada, Spain

The Easter season holds importance for Christians around the world while they follow different traditions depending on their cultural upbringing. In the week leading upto Easter in Spain, celebrated as La Merengada, Thursday is celebrated as Jueves Lardero (Maundy Thursday).
Jueves Lardero is the day when one of the largest food fights takes place with meringue and cream thrown all around. By the end of the evening, everyone is covered in white and requires a change of clothes. The celebrations are particularly prominent in the port town of Vilanovai la Geltrú.

Another event that takes places a little later is the Batalla De Caramelos. The local children are up for a sweet surprise as plenty of candy is thrown around. It’s every dentist’s nightmare.
Maundy Thursday will take place on 18th April 2019, so be prepared!

The small port town is just an hour’s drive from Barcelona. The Barcelona-El Prat Airport, however, is 45 minutes away from Vilanova I La Geltru.

The El Prat Airport is an international airport, which is the second busiest in Spain, behind the Madrid-Barajas Airport and the seventh busiest in Europe. There are regular flights to and from Barcelona, nationally and internationally.

La Sagrada Familia is a beautiful yet unfinished Church which was designed by Antoni Gaudi in 1882. This church happens to be Barcelona’s most famous tourist attraction and welcomes over 3 million visitors every year.

The Picasso Museum is another major tourist attraction in Barcelona. Since Pablo Picasso spent 9 years of his youth in Barcelona and considers himself as a citizen. He also had his first exhibition in Barcelona. Thus, it is fitting that the museum has his early sketches and canvasses on display and might not have his most famous works.

The Font Magica Fountain is a unique sight and has an estimated of 2.5 million visitors every year. It has a magical display of water, light and music. In the summer season, light and music shows happen from Thursday to Sunday. In the winters, there are evening light and music shows too but only on Friday and Saturday.

4. Giant Omelet Festival, France

From one peculiar Easter tradition to another, the town of Bessieres in France has a sticky tradition to offer. A giant 15,000 egg omelet tradition! According to legend, Napoleon had a brief visit to Bessieres for the night. He was so happy by the omelette prepared for him that night by the innkeeper that he asked the villagers to gather all the eggs in the province and prepare an egg the next day for his departure.

Since then, the tradition has been celebrated every year. In 2016, about 10,000 people gathered for the festivities. Spectators poured gallons of egg yolk into a large pan in the main square of Bessieres, Southern France. The egg is then stirred using large baguettes. The spectators gathered go back satisfied with their efforts by the end of the evening.

Easter shall be on 21st April 2019, so get ready!

The closest airport to Bessieres is the Toulouse Airport which is at a distance of 39 km. The cheapest but most time-consuming means of travel is using the bus service. Since, this means changing between two buses, it takes approximately 2hrs 31min. But this would cost only around 4€(₹309-₹359).

Alternatively, a taxi drive would take only 31min but would cost around 52€ - 62€(₹4,200 -₹5,000). Driving is the best way to get around if you have a car because it is around the same price as the bus service and takes the same amount of time as a taxi would.

Le Phenix is located in South West France, just outside Toulouse. It has different types of suites including two luxurious family suites. It also has high quality and comfortable beds, pillows and bedsheets. There is a common kitchen which has a fridge, microwave, kettles for tea and coffee, and ironing facilities for a more homelike experience.

Le Phenix prides itself in a home away from home environment and this reflects in the homely and authentic breakfast served too. Le Phenix also has a swimming pool and a sitting area around it.

5. Olney Pancake Race, England

On Shrove Tuesday every year, the women of Olney, Buckinghamshire, England participate in a world famous Pancake Race which is an Olney tradition dating back to 1445. The 2018 race was held on 13th February, Tuesday and it started at 11:55am. Races also take place for children from schools in Olney.

There is a lot of speculation about the origin of this tradition. Some say that it started when a harassed housewife heard the church bell and ran, pan in hand. The tradition was revived in 1948 by the Vicar of Olney.

In 1950, this tradition was turned into a world competition when the small town of Liberal in Kansas, USA challenged Olney. The citizens of Liberal had been interested in the race after seeing press photographs and had formed a similar custom. Since then, both the towns compete annually and exchange prizes.

The closest airport to Olney is the London Heathrow Airport, which is at a distance of approximately 77 kilometers. The Heathrow Airport is an international airport and is the second busiest airport in the world by international passenger traffic.

Lamorna Bed and Breakfast is a 5-star haven which offers free WiFi, satellite TV, kettles and a garden. Some rooms even have a kitchen, microwave, wardrobe, toaster and fridge. Lamorna, however, is particularly known for their authentic Irish/English breakfast. It is a value-for-money hotel for all.

Shrove Tuesday is set to be on 5th March 2019, so get ready to flip some pancakes!

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